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Wash. couple vanishes with infant, tot as older kids attended school

MONTESANO, Wash. -- Authorities in Washington state are searching remote logging roads for a missing couple and two of their four children.

Jason and Melissa McAlister and two of their children, ages 8 months and 2 years, appear to have left home Tuesday while their older two children were at school, said Steve Shumate, chief criminal deputy with the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office.

“We just don’t know where they could have gone,” Shumate said. “Hopefully they’ve just broken down somewhere.” The McAlisters were believed to be in a gold 2008 Chevrolet Uplander van.

The family’s home is in a rural area southwest of Seattle, about 20 miles north of the town of Montesano. They were reported missing Tuesday evening after no one showed up to meet the school bus bringing the older children, ages 7 and 8, home, Shumate said. 

“They are wonderful parents. They are just very dependable, and we are scared,” Melissa McAlister’s aunt, Viona McCleod, told CBS affiliate KIRO. “That’s why we are terrified that something’s happened.”

The family’s landlord, who also lives at the property, told authorities he had spoken with Jason McAlister, 33, before leaving the house at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Shumate said. McAlister reportedly told him the family planned to do some chores, then maybe go out for a drive and come back by 3 p.m.

At the time of the conversation, Melissa McAlister, 27, was still in bed, Shumate said.

Jason McAlister worked as a ranch hand on the property, while Melissa McAlister works at a Walmart store.

They had reportedly left food and groceries on the table and a load of laundry in their washer. Melissa McAlister reportedly didn’t show up for her job -- the first time she’s missed work in years, the station reports.

Deputies are reportedly concerned the family may have been involved in an accident and the wreck isn’t viewable from the road. If the weather allows, deputies were set to take to the sky Thursday using high-tech cameras to try to spot the family, reports CBS affiliate KIRO.

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